Qiufu Ma, Ph.D., is a Professor at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School. His lab has been working on somatic sensory circuits. Major contributions include the identification of i) Neurogenin1 essential for nociceptor genesis, ii) Runx1 that controls the segregation of the exteroceptive versus interoceptive sensory pathways, and iii) Tlx3 that controls the specification of the excitatory versus inhibitory neurons in the dorsal spinal cord. These developmental studies laid down the foundation for the second phase of Dr. Ma’s research: mapping spinal microcircuits that transmit and gate mechanical pain and revealing separate spinal ascending pathways that drive sustained affective pain associated with body injury versus reflexive-defensive reactions to external threats. In recent years, his lab has started to investigate how these pathways relate to acupuncture mechanisms of action, revealing for the first time a concrete neuroanatomical basis for acupuncture to drive anti-inflammatory autonomic neural pathways.
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